Hosea – the Prophet that makes me quake in my boots! (@nicolahwriter)

Reading the book of the prophet Hosea is not a very comfortable task. Any book that has the word ‘whoredom’ in the second sentence is likely to be pretty colourful and Hosea’s message doesn’t really lighten as you progress through the book. The Bible has many good things, frankly astounding things, to say about humanity even going so far as to say we bear in our nature the image of God. But it also has some pretty scathing assessments of the world and how we live in it.

Hosea certainly has some hard things to say to his contemporaries. He walks in, wielding words like a sledgehammer, and tells them that the way they are living is making their worship of God null and void. It makes perfect sense, we say it all the time, ‘practice what you preach’, but is it comfortable? No, it certainly isn’t that. Because though the book of Hosea is the most ancient collection of prophecies in the Bible, written a bewildering 2,800 years ago, a lot of what Hosea has to say rings alarmingly true today.

Hosea is straight down the line. It’s not ok to claim a God of love and act with violence. It’s not ok to claim divine forgiveness as a warrant to do whatever you like. It’s not ok to say one thing and do another. It’s not ok to meet you own needs lavishly and not give a stuff about the poor. It’s not ok to let down those who trust you, to break marriage vows and friendship bonds. It’s not ok to live in your community as if you were the only one.

Crikey. This book makes me quake in my boots a little bit. And even more than this the words of Hosea are particularly quake-worthy for those of us who claim to be attempting to live in a relationship with God. Hosea has some strong words to say to us. All that religion, he says, no matter how good or well performed it might be, is all deadwood and utterly useless if behind it our heart is cold.

from https://lion2lamb.wordpress.com/

from https://lion2lamb.wordpress.com/

Hosea, like many of the prophets is unwavering in his declaration that how we live together matters. How we treat those around us is the yardstick against which our love of God is really measured. Hosea’s perception of the world seems to have something ongoing about it. It seems to sum up the unending problems of us human beings attempting to live together on the same planet.

Hosea does, however, give us a glimmer of the hope we find more widely in the Bible when it comes to the human situation. To illustrate God’s response to this lost and precious generation Hosea describes his pretty turbulent marital situation. Hosea must take back his wife who has been unfaithful to him all about town just as God will take back his unfaithful people. We may be at times faithless but God is faithful. His standards are not our standards, nor his ways our ways. He is committed like a partner who never wavers in their marriage vows. What a beautiful and hopeful image.

‘I will take you as my wife forever. I will take you as my wife in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness and you shall know the Lord’. Hosea 2:19-20

About Nicola Hulks